By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit has enjoined consumer stores and retailers selling plastic bags in Quezon City to remit to the city government overP316.5 million in sales as the audit agency declared public fund the income derived from the sale.
Reviewing the implementation of City Ordinance No. SP-2350, S-2014 which discourages the use of plastic bags, state auditors noted that out of the 64 “relevant retailers” included in the Green Fund program, only four were able to implement incentive schemes that encouraged consumers to use reusable shopping bags and at the same time, redeem used plastic bags.
In the recently released 2018 annual audit report for the QC government, COA also called on local officials to amend the existing ordinance to ensure more effective implementation.
State auditors called for increased penalties for non-compliance of the partial ban on the use of plastic bags. They also wanted the ordinance to make it mandatory for stores to remit regularly to the city government all collections of Green Fund that represent the sales of plastic bags.
“The City should be the one who should implement the projects since it is the primary duty of the city to protect the natural environment, the economy and health of citizens,” COA stated, referring to the funding and implementation of Green Fund projects aimed at protecting the environment.
Accounting records revealed that of the total P341,428,658 in Green Fund collection from 2012 to 2018, some P24.83 million were spent by stores to implement various environmental projects, leaving a balance of P315.59 million.
“We recommend that Management cause the immediate remittance of the remaining Green Fund maintained by retailers, being a public fund subject to COA audit, in the total amount of P316,598 million as of December 31, 2018, including interest if any,” auditors said.
Demand letters should also be issued to formally ask retailers to remit the collections.
The COA noted that only four out of the 64 participating stores were able to formulate incentive schemes that the city ordinance proposed in order to “generate goodwill, patronage and encourage consumers” to use reusable shopping bags. Such incentive proposals should also be aimed at redeeming used plastic bags, thus, making consumers fully aware of the purpose of the “plastic bag reduction ordinance.”
Based on the report submitted by the QC Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, the four retailers that have formulated incentive set up were the City Super Inc., Goldilocks, Isetann Department Store and Super Value Inc.
City Super buys “old unusable plastic materials” with coupons that may be used to get new plastic bags without cost. It also distributed eco-bags as part of promotional activities.
COA said Goldilocks gives away free reusable bags for every P1,000 food purchase while Isetann shoppers are given points for free reusable bags in exchange of purchases.
For its part, Super Value Inc. adds two points rewards in the SM Advantage and Prestige cards and BDO cards as incentives for shopping with SM Green Bags.